Galicia, Spain — Ría de Arousa
Fish harvesters use a small-scale harvesting method, called Xeito in Galician, involving curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights to catch sardines. The fine netting is almost invisible, so sardines unwittingly swim into the mesh. As they try to back out, their gill covers get snagged and the fish becomes entangled in the net and are hauled aboard.
Gillnetting is an effective and selective method of harvesting sardines. Vessels are small with outboard motors and a small crew. Gillnetters set their nets in estuaries or coastal inlets at night attempting to catch the sardines. They soak the net in the ocean for about an hour and then haul it aboard with their catch of sardines. The sardines are picked from the net one by one. Fish harvesters bring their catches to the local auction each morning.
There are 419 vessels permitted to catch sardines in Galicia. About 122 of these vessels use gill nets or the "Xeito" methods. These small gill-net vessels catch about 29 percent of all the sardines in Galicia.
Gillnetting has a low impact on marine. A number of controls address conservation in the sardine gillnet fishery. These include:
The Ría de Arousa is the largest of five saline estuaries, or ria, along the Galician coast of Spain.